Zoe and I are living together during our homestay and it has been quite the adventure so far… When I envisioned our homestay, I figured that we would be with a family, or at least two people and that we would be engaging in their lives and taking part in meals, conversation, and just general interaction. Instead, we engage with our host, Robin, 1-2 times a day for a few moments, but typically these interactions are either cordial asking about one’s day, or Zoe and I getting snapped at because we have done something wrong. This makes it seem worse than it is, as we have only really gotten in trouble with her a few times, but for the most part, I am disappointed in our experience. Rather than feeling like a part of a family, or of someones life, we have taken on a role of boarders, and thus feel uncomfortable really using the house. This includes cooking, doing our laundry, and even having a friend over. To make matters more difficult, we don’t have any privacy, as the room we are staying in lacks a door! I am so glad I have Zoe through this though, as we have ended up spending a ton of time together and have bonded over our dislike of our living situation. We seem to be alone in our circumstances though, as our other peers have hosts who cook meals with them, engage in conversation and activities, and everyone else does have a door!
Although our home stay is not working out as well as I hoped, I still love Berlin as a city, and continue to find more and more worth exploring. Berlin is compared a lot to Brooklyn and I definitely see truth in this claim which makes the city feel more familiar already. So far I have had no issues with language barriers, and even went to a sub par pilates class yesterday that was taught in english and german simultaneously! I have become really comfortable with the public transport system as every day to get to class I have to take either the UBahn (the underground train system), the S Bahn (the above ground trains) or a bus, and most often a combination of two. What is really strange to me though is the fact that while you need a ticket, the tickets are never checked. You walk into a station and are immediately at the tracks, and with the busses you don’t even need to show the tickets to the driver. Instead, occasionally officers will come through the trains and check tickets, and if you don’t have one on you you get fined. We haven’t yet had to show our tickets yet though, and I wonder if I ever will have to!
Through our neighbourhood exploration we have found plenty of cute coffee shops, a few with better wifi than our house, which makes getting some space from our homestay pretty easy and relaxing. Sadly, our favourite one is a 25 minute walk away, but it ends up being so worth it!! It has amazing coffee and tea, a comfy booth we have claimed for our own, and is next to this delicious restaurant and across the street from a great tattoo shop. Berlin is also known for tattoos, and of course, I felt the need to get one while I am here! Rather than get a new one however, I felt it would be powerful to do something related to gender studies, and updated my worn and badly done preexisting venus symbol. I went to a very cool german shop, and am very happy with my update! I feel like a true Berliner now!